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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  November 29, 2012 4:00pm-5:00pm PST

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bill richardson. it was great to have you on the show tonight and great for you to clear up a lot because you were there. you were a u.n. ambassador at the time. well, that's the show for tonight. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardba "hardball" starts right now. advise and consent. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start with simple, undeniable facts. the president of the united states has the right and duty to select the secretary of state, the person he thinks will best help him shape and project this country's foreign policy.
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just as important, the senate has the duty to advise and consent to his decision. if senators see a serious problem with a nominee, they have a right and duty to speak and vote that way. someone keeps telling the press that president obama prefers to nominate u.n. ambassador susan rice, and as long as that person is not the president and does so under ground rules that protect his or her identity, we are condemned to this preventative war we're watching in washington. one side attacking while no one outside the gates of the white house knows what the president intends. i take president obama at his official word. he has not decided whose name to send to the senate, and with that we go to the first of our two senatorial guests, senator bob corker, republican of tennessee. senator corker, i have laid it out as best i can.
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you senators have a right and a duty to decide, to advise and consent or not to a president's nominee. isn't this strange that we're having the debate about the qualifications for a candidate for the secretary of state position and she hasn't been nominated? >> i think it is, and, you know, as i mentioned yesterday, whoever the president does nominate, i certainly look forward to giving a full hearing. i don't actually know how this has, you know, gotten this way. i had a long meeting yesterday with the ambassador, and, i mean, you would have to say there's a lot of indications that at least there's some balloon floating that's taking place -- >> yeah, there is. >> i don't think otherwise she would have spent an hour and a half with me yesterday and an hour and 15 minutes with susan collins and others. you're right, she's not nominated, but it does appear something is happening to just sort of gauge support. >> let me show you a piece of what the ambassador of the u.n., susan rice, said on "meet the press" on september 16th, five days after the attack on our facility in benghazi. i think it's the heart of the critique.
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>> pointing to the best information we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in cairo which were prompted, of course, by the video. what we think then transpired in benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. >> so there you have it. what do you think about that, and what role does that statement by her make in the concern about her qualifications? >> yeah. you know, chris, one of the things that's amplified some of the concerns around this is we had a classified briefing with about 65 or 70 senators on september the 20th, and i assure you if you were there, you would have thought it was one of the most bizarre briefings ever
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where we had four, you know, distinguished people there who shared like no information. i was in libya about a week after that. it was a preplanned trip. i didn't go there because of benghazi. obviously benghazi was a big topic, and i sat there with our station chief, our head intelligence person who was there serving after the ambassador had been killed, and they were telling me that in real time they were letting folks back home know that this, in fact, was a terrorist attack and there was absolutely no protest. so you can see how people have had concerns. i think really and in talking to ambassador rice yesterday, we had a very long meeting, you know, one of the things that she knows she shouldn't have said was that we have decimated al qaeda, and i know that you know
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this because you're a student of what's happening in the world, but certainly nothing can be further from the truth. so i do think there have been some fairly legitimate concerns that this was all in the height of a political campaign, and it really did appear that she was very anxious to make it appear that things were a little different in the middle east than they are. look, we can all get caught up in that and certainly we had a conversation to that effect yesterday, but i will tell you as a person, i think you asked me to come on because i hope you think i'm fairly level-headed. i'm really disgusted with everything from the intelligence to the security to, you know, the fbi -- i mean, this whole thing really should not be where it is today, and i do think that part of it is she's gotten caught up in some of the other things that -- although i have concerns, and you have heard my concerns. i do feel like -- >> let's narrow them down, senator. you're concerned she said it was a spontaneous uprising by, as we've seen, in karachi and in cairo on that day. it was just part of the general outrage against the video that came out of los angeles, and you
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say it definitely wasn't, and the people at the time knew it wasn't. >> chris, i don't even want to get -- it's actually beyond that. i like susan rice. she knows i like her. we've had a warm relationship. i think that she strikes me sometimes as more of a political operative than somebody who is -- you know, the secretary of state we hold to a very different standard. we do that with the secretary of treasury. sometimes the secretary of defense. they're sort of first among equals of other cabinet members, and i think that most of us want to see a degree of independence. i want you to know i'm not disqualifying her, okay? i'm telling you that certainly if she is nominated, i am going to give her a full hearing. i always do that -- >> let me put that in language we use here. you don't see her as a principal. you see her as an ally or an associate of the president rather than as a principal separate from him?
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is that the way you're trying to say it? >> chris, in all the conversations i've had with her, you always feel it's sort of pushing a political point of view. when i have those same conversations with secretary clinton, i feel -- she's always supportive obviously of the president's agenda, but it's a different sense of transparency and directness and pointing out, you know, things we need to be thinking about, and i'm not saying that ambassador rice in that position couldn't end up being that way, but initially my sense of her is, and we had this very direct conversation yesterday for about 30 minutes, is i do -- i have always sensed her to be more of a political operative. i know she's steeped in policy and has spent lots of time in africa, and i don't take that away from her, but i do have some concerns. again, if she's nominated, i'm going to give her a full hearing, and i promise you it will be a fair, full hearing. >> i take you at your word, senator. it's great for you to come on. a very clear point of view
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you've given us. thank you for joining us on "hardball." yesterday i spoke with senator susan collins who also had concerns about ambassador rice. >> it's obvious she chose to emphasize some aspects and downplay others, and, frankly, i think the u.n. ambassador along with the secretary of state should be above politics and that she should have just said, no, i'm not going to go on those shows. it's the wrong issue and the wrong time of year. i've got to maintain my credibility. >> okay. joining us right now is kent conrad, senator from north dakota. i guess you heard those views. what are your views on the issues raised on the antagonistic side? >> first of all, i have high regard for senator corker and
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senator collins, but there are others who have been strident voices against the ambassador that have been terribly unfair to her. what she said on those sunday talk shows was precisely what the intelligence community agreed to unanimously would be the unclassified version of events. it is entirely appropriate for the ambassador to rely on the intelligence community for what she says in public. what was said in a classified report would have been totally inappropriate for her to talk about on those sunday talk shows. so she is being pilloried and criticized for doing precisely what she should have done, which was to use the intelligence community's unclassified assessment of what occurred. >> well, they make the point, i've listened to all the complaints about her, the more
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dignified and the less dignified ones, and their argument seems to be she went on as a flack, if you will. a press secretary. someone who went on to basically spin it so the president would look good. that his arguments over the last several months of the campaign would look good. that we've basically decimated al qaeda, that it wasn't an organized terrorist attack, it was a spontaneous attack, and they say she emphasized more of the spontaneity of it and the relationship to that video coming out of los angeles and de-emphasized the role of organized terrorism here. is that a fair criticism or is that something that comes with the territory of speaking for the white house? >> i don't think it's fair. look, i'm on the intelligence committee, and there's a lot that we can't talk about that goes on there, but what is very clear is the intelligence community has said with great clarity and with unanimity that the talking points she used were the talking points provided to her by the intelligence committee of the united states, that they provided those talking
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points after consultation with all of the agencies, and they were the unclassified talking points which is precisely what any ambassador, any representative of the united states should use. not the classified talking points that might reveal things critically important to national security. >> two questions, can you tell us without giving away the names of the people involved, is there a personal vendetta at work here from some of the senators? a personal vendetta against the person of the u.n. ambassador here, susan rice, and/or is there a surrogate attack against the president who has just been re-elected by people who are embittered by the fact? >> i think it's people who are embittered by the re-election of the president, and i think she's caught in the crosshairs, and i think she's caught in it in a completely unfair way. she used the talking points provided to her and not just to her, those were the talking points prepared by a request from the house intelligence committee. that's who the intelligence community was responding to.
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she got a copy of those comments, and those are the ones she used, which was entirely appropriate for her to do. >> we'll have to have you back, senator, to talk about something i know you're good on, that's the fiscal cliff. i want to have you on because i trust in you. thank you, kent conrad. coming up, hot new evidence the republicans have learned nada, nothing, from the election they just lost. yesterday you saw the all-white republican chairmanships in the house of representatives. today's story, the marquee name for the republican party next year ken, cuccinelli, a real winger. wait until you catch his decisions on all kinds of issues affecting women, immigrants, everybody. this is the full monty of the right wing coming up in this election for governor of virginia. we'll be right back. well, you can add another victory for the democrats in the congressional races. in the house of representatives in north carolina's 7th district, david rouzer has conceded to mike mcintyre. democrats have won a net gain of eight seats, and they're
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strategizing on how to win the next 17 they need to take over in the 2014 midterms, although it must be said it's very hard for the party controlling the white house to win either body over in that midterm election. we'll be right back. [ boys screaming ] hi, i just switched jobs, and i want to roll over my old 401(k) into a fidelity ira. man: okay, no problem. it's easy to get started; i can help you with the paperwork. um...this green line just appeared on my floor. yeah, that's fidelity helping you reach your financial goals. could you hold on a second? it's your money. roll over your old 401(k) into a fidelity ira and take control of your personal economy. this is going to be helpful. call or come in today. fidelity investments. turn here.
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boy, you can add another victory for the democrats and the house of representatives. north carolina's seventh district has conceded to incumbent democratic congressman mcintyre. they are already strategizing how they can take over the next net 17. it must be very hard for the party controlling the white house to win either body over in that midterm election. we'll be right back. the giants e a mascot! ohhh! eat up! new jammin jerk chicken soup has tasty pieces of chicken with rice and beans.
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welcome back to "hardball." it appears republicans have learned few, if any, lessons from the election they just had.
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and as we said last night, a party that lost overwhelmingly among women, latinos, and african-americans will have house chairmen that all look like those guys. now, the chief strategist of romney's campaign, stu stevens, is describing why he lost. he wrote in "the washington post" today, quote, there was a time not so long ago when the problems of the democratic party revolved around being too liberal and too dependent on minorities. obama turned those problems into advantages and rode that strategy to victory. but he was a charismatic african-american president with a billion dollars, no primary, and media that often felt morally conflicted about being critical. how easy is that to replicate? in other words, the election was an anomaly giving republicans little reason to worry in the future. this morning stevens said mitt romney's ideas were right on, as he puts it. he's getting cool, he's right on in his talking. let's listen. >> i think that the ideas carried the day for us and that
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success that we had, though it obviously wasn't enough to win the race, was based on the candidate mitt romney and on his ideas. >> well, using that '60s language of right on, he isn't quite. he continued the outreach was the campaign's problem, not necessarily the message. let's listen here. >> i think we should have done a better job reaching out to women voters. the governor has a great record on women's issues. we should have done a better job articulating that record. we should have done a better job reaching out to hispanic voters. we should have done it earlier and in a more effective way. >> michael steele is former chair of the republican national committee back in the days they won elections like this. howard fineman is editorial director of "the huffington post." you know what the british imperialists used to do when somebody who spoke another language couldn't understand them, they yelled louder. and then someone said i still can't understand you. here is the theory, it's a failure to communicate. your thoughts. >> that's just the tip of the iceberg there. yeah, it was a failure to communicate.
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you can sit back now and say we would have, should have, could have, but along the way guys like howard, you, myself within the party were saying this is what you should be doing. you need to -- >> but i'm not with your party. >> no, but there were moments where you were slightly objective in this process and in which you were -- >> what a sweetheart. >> you were very clear, and i think all of us were clear that there were communication gaps, but it was more than that, chris, and i think it was organization, it was ground game, it was -- >> let's take the easy stuff. immigration. this immigration thing is new to a lot of us. it's a big development in this country. a lot of people are undocumented, a lot of people from latin america, not all certainly, and they believed their interests laid with the democratic candidate, the president. >> i know stuart well, i have covered him in many campaigns.
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when he's not in a campaign, he's a very broad gauge guy. >> i got it. >> in the cockpit, he's different it seems based on these comments in particular. >> how about after a crash? >> because reaching out -- because reaching out means or should mean talking to them about -- the voters about issues they care about in the ways that they find appealing. what mitt romney's problems was, say, with the hispanic community was, especially in the primaries, mitt romney came on as the hard core guy who wanted people to self-deport or get gone. the way that sounded to -- evidently it sounded to 71% of hispanic voters who supported barack obama was we don't want to hear the republican candidate whose main platform is about getting us to take ourselves and leave the country. that's the reaching out that was wrong, not the mechanics, not the ground game, not that they didn't advertise on hispanic radio, which they didn't do in the first six months or television. those are just mechanical things. it's a matter of substance.
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>> last republican president proved it. he was very good on hispanic issues. tried a little spanish. he had a good fellowship there. >> if you had more time to talk to stuart stevens and have a discussion with him, i think he'd agree with that. >> already here we are in the potomac river right between virginia and maryland and we got the biggest race -- that's why we talk about virginia and new jersey. it's going to be the governor's race which will pit the state's far right attorney general ken cuccinelli against terry mcauliffe, a real clinton guy. it can set the template for republican candidates in 2014 and beyond. those candidates will watch to see how an extreme candidate like cuccinelli, who is a very conservative guy, does in virginia, a state that votes most like the rest of the country and has now twice voted for barack obama. how extreme is cuccinelli? he supports personhood, the moment after conception the
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fetus or unborn child has the rights of life, liberty, and property and that gets serious business. his own website uses the harsh language on immigration. ken is committed to solutions that remove the economic incentives that encourage illegal immigration, illegal aliens who choose to break additional laws by stealing identities, dealing drugs, joining criminal gangs, driving without a license, or committing fraud must receive prompt justice and deportation. no ifs, ands, or buts. i'd say that was clear. he also -- he altered the virginia state seal for modesty. notice that woman is a bit more french than her display, but he says he wanted to make sure that bare breast was removed from the goddess of virtue. small point. when cuccinelli had lapel pins made, the goddess' breast was covered. small point. he discussed concerns about getting a social security number for a soon to be born child. he was wondering whether he should get a social security number because of concerns for black helicopters. no ifs, ands or buts. i would say that's clear. notice that woman is a little more french, perhaps, in her display or whatever. he says, he wanted to make sure that the bare breast was removed from the goddess of virtue. the goddess' breasts were covered. small point.
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he talked about getting a social security number for a soon to be born son of his. he was wondering whether to have the child get a social security or not because of concerns about black helicopters. here it goes. let's listen. >> we're going to have ourself event child on monday if he's not born before. and for the very concerns you state, we're actually considering, as i'm sure many of you here didn't get a social security number when you were born. you had to do it now. we're considering not doing that. and a lot of people are considering that now because it is being used to track you. >> this is crazy. this is the kind of black helicopter, the government, they're coming to get you, in your house. we're going to register all the guns, come get -- who is he appealing to in virginia there in your party? >> well, there is clearly in the southern and western portions of virginia, certainly not northern virginia, you know, some of that
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rhetoric. >> he's running for governor. >> this is my point. it's going to be interesting to see -- i campaigned with and for cuccinelli when he ran before in 2009, and he and the lieutenant governor bolling both very good men, and it's going to be interesting sort of -- >> hell of a race. >> remember the primary is the convention. you will have a great push by conservatives, by other republicans in the party between bolling and -- >> i think -- >> lieutenant governor bolling has basically said i'm out of here. he's not going to take part in this process. he's talking about -- >> projected nationally what does it say about -- >> i think it's a laboratory experiment to see if the tea party, if the right to lifers, if the radical anti-government people, if the grover norquist wing of anti-taxers can win an election or not, and virginia is a great test. it's now a swing state that they
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should -- republicans should be able to win with the right kind of message. they didn't win it. a, quote, liberal won it according to stuart stevens. what does that tell you? can the real hard core right wing win a statewide election with a guy like cuccinelli? >> that will be the test. >> that will be the test. and they may be up against terry mcauliffe, the democrat who represents everything about the clinton/obama democratic party that the people in south side virginia can't stand, that they don't like. let's see -- >> he's a classic northern virginia guy. he works in washington. he's a bedroom community guy. which is fair enough, but they don't like it. >> and i think howard is exactly right. this is going to be a real dynamic test for the gop on the national level, not just for virginia, but how -- >> guess who else is going to
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be -- his wife perhaps. bill clinton will be in there campaigning. showing he's still got the chops. >> nobody has raised more money i don't think in the history of the planet for the clintons than terry mcauliffe. >> and we have cory booker running -- >> both of these are within easy traveling distance of this desk, which makes it great. >> going to take the train or the car? >> i don't know. the mobile "hardball" mobile. >> is cuccinelli far right? >> cuccinelli is a conservative individual. >> he's a far right guy. thank you. kid get his gun right after conception or not? property rights. anyway, thank you, michael steele and howard fineman. up next, remember that guy who got the romney campaign logo tattooed on his face? he's having a bad case of buyer's remorse. he's thinking about giving back romney. that's ahead, and this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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back to"hardball." now to the "sideshow." vice president joe biden made a surprise visit at the grand opening of washington, d.c.'s, new costco this morning, and he reminds shoppers about the fiscal cliff while he's at it. >> in all honesty, i didn't have my own card. jill wouldn't let me have one. i went to get my wife's card, and she said, no, no, no, you get your own. all the people you meet in here today and you see, these are hard-working folks who don't need to see their taxes go up. >> that's one way to create opening day buzz, although it looks like watching this scene everybody was more interested in watching the vice president do his own shopping there. also, why are people receiving this fund-raising e-mail from bill clinton? quote, i've enjoyed it so much whenever we've brought one of hillary's strongest supporters to new york to spend a day with me, i'm happy to tell you that i've asked to do it again. this is not the launch of a 2016 campaign. secretary clinton's 2008 campaign still owes $70,000, and
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they're trying to pay it off. just weeks after galvanizing the country for president obama, big bill is back there working his fan base again offering donors the chance to spend time with him. next, remember when georgia congressman paul broun offered this account of how old the earth is? >> there's a lot of scientific data that i found out as a scientist that shows this is really a young earth. i don't believe that the earth's but about 9,000 years old. >> broun is not alone. when marco rubio was asked about the age of the planet in a recent interview, he dodged it saying, i'm not a scientist, man. now televangelist pat robertson of all people is weighing in, but not in a way you might expect. we're going to have pat robertson back. pat robertson saying the earth is very, very old. we should believe the artifacts and the paleontology.
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finally, a real about-face for the guy who had the romney campaign logo tattooed on his face before the election in exchange for a $5,000 payment. when romney lost, he said he was keeping the tattoo anyway. you're going to lose your children and i believe in telling them the way it was. >> pat robertson with truth. then he caught wind of romney saying the president won the re-election by giving gifts to minority voters. now he says, quote, it stands not only for a losing campaign but for a sore loser. there's no dignity in blaming somebody else for buying votes and paying off people. i can't get behind that or stay behind that. well, a tattoo removal chain offered to remove the tattoo for free, and hartsburg is taking them up on it. they are predicting it will take
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seven to ten laser removal sessions to get rid of the whole thing. hartsburg says he will be more choosey about future political tattoos. republicans know they are stuck between the grover norquist no tax pledge and knowing they will be blamed if we go over that fiscal cliff. that's ahead. and you're watching "hardball," the place for politics.
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good evening. here's what's happening. the united nations voted earlier to recognize palestinian statehood. though the u.s. voted no, there were cheers on the floor of the general assembly. hillary clinton sounded hopeful about dealing with iran and its
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nuclear program. she says there's still a window of opportunity to resolve that issue. and former george h.w. bush is being treated at a hospital for bronchitis. he may be released this weekend. now back to "hardball ". back to "hardball." let's take making a deal here. for all those at home who want to see republicans and democrats work together to avoid the fiscal cliff, we can bring you two lawmakers who are open to cutting a deal before the end of the year. with me are members from both sides of the aisle, u.s. congressman lee terry, a republican from nebraska, and u.s. congressman jerry connolly, a democrat from nearby southern virginia. but first, i want to start with you. you told the "omaha world herald" this about republicans, we're screwed either way. we have no leverage in these discussions. congressman, what did you mean by that? >> what i mean by that is that
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the president wants us to take a tax vote before he's willing to talk about anything else cutting or reforming, and republicans just aren't going to do that. so what he's doing is setting us up to be the fall people for going over the fiscal cliff. frankly, going over the fiscal cliff is a win for the president. so either way we're going to get it. >> but i don't see why that's true because -- first of all, the president has talked around what kind of cuts he wants to do in nondefense discretionary and about a third of a trillion dollars in ten years of entitlements. he's talked along those lines. if he doesn't give you a definition and details by the time you go to vote, obviously you won't vote for it. what's your risk? he's got to get in the pot, too, with his part of the deal well before the end of the year. >> yeah, i think he wins by playing the political game because -- >> what game? >> you've met -- well, the setting up -- saying that we have to take a tax vote before he's even willing to discuss anything else. >> you said he wants to vote on that without the package being prepared.
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>> well, that's right. he wants us -- he said that the other day, that he wants us to take that tax vote to prove our sincerity. well, i'll tell you what. if he comes with a big package that does raise revenues, a lot of us are going to vote for that if it's good enough. >> i disagree with the president. i'm with you on that then. look, if he wants a separate vote, i agree with him -- i agree with you guys because i think -- let me ask you from your point of view, would you agree for high income people above a quarter million a year, would you vote for a 38% marginal rate? would you accept something like that as a compromise with something, perhaps a higher cap on medicare payments? would you accept something like that? >> i think those are all part of the discussion here, and we'll be open to a lot of different things as long as we get the big deal on this, that we make those type of reforms. i'd rather see tax reform than just saying we're going to increase the rate on the top level from -- >> i know you would.
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>> -- 35% to 38%. >> that won't work. the liberals will never deal with you unless you raise the rates. they want to see the bite marks on your neck. they want to know you guys defending the rich will pay a price before they will pay. the pelosi core of the democratic party will not deal if the president doesn't get a rise in the rates for rich people. >> we feel the same way about them. we don't trust they will have earnest discussions about tax cuts -- i'm sorry -- about real spending cuts, and so setting -- >> let me bring in mr. -- >> -- just isn't going to work. >> i don't know about this game of who is first. somebody is going to have to go first. let me ask you, mr. connolly, how do you react to what he's saying there, first of all? that makes it simple? >> well, i certainly can understand congressman terry's concern, but i think the election is over. the president won the election, and there weren't a lot of explicits in this campaign, but one that there was was the
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president explicitly saying, i was at three rallies with him in virginia, i think the better off, the higher income tax brackets, ought to pay a little bit to help us with this fiscal cliff. he campaigned and won on that premise. public opinion polling shows the public is with him on that. let's get beyond the campaigning, let's get beyond the name calling and try to settle that so that the 98% whose taxes will stay low can stay low. >> let me ask you both if you agree on this. the importance of getting this done before christmas and not letting this go slinking off beyond january 1st. you first, mr. terry. >> yeah, i want to get this done, and i think the people want us to get this done. so i don't want to punt it. i don't want to push it into next year. let's get the discussions rolling, let's get the big deal done. that's what the people want us to do. >> well, i hope you can get your business community behind you because they're the unlikely
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allies of the president here. it's tom donohue and the -- >> they want it done. >> i know. they have to get republicans to vote for a deal early. will the liberals vote for anything unless they get a rise in the tax for the top people? >> well, really, i can only speak for myself, chris, but my sense of the caucus is there are strong feelings about protecting entitlements from depredations on the other side, and they want to be very clear about the details, but i think there's also a willingness to work with the president and support the president in his leadership in averting the fiscal cliff, and i agree with mr. terry, we want to get this done before the end of the year so that we're not roiling markets, not disrupting people's planning for the next calendar year, and we're not having anybody's taxes go up in the middle class. >> let me get the timing right, mr. terry. you're in the majority. are you being advised by your whips there are going to be tough votes right near christmas eve or some coming back after
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christmas before the 31st in some crazy christmas week chaos? in other words, are you being advised the big votes will come before christmas? >> our leadership and our conference has said there hasn't been any substantive discussions, and so we don't know when this is going to be over. >> well, that's not very heartening. >> no, it isn't. >> i'm watching the stock market -- you know what i'm told by my financial adviser, and i trust him completely, dan saunders up there in new york, he probably loves me mentioning his name. he says that the market right, now which is back to the 13,000, the dow today, good news, is based on the confidence that you professionals can put a deal together before new year's. in other words, it's all based on that. it's ice we're on right now, thin ice. do i understand you have to get this done in time, and if you don't, the markets will be completely screwed up by this worldwide? your thoughts? who wants to talk about that one? mr. connolly. >> i'll be glad to comment on
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that. i'm a little more optimistic than my colleague. i think a deal is sort of cooking. i think the parameters of that deal are not mysterious. i don't think this involves rocket science in putting it together. it requires political consensus. i think there are a lot of trial balloons going on on the republican side of the aisle to try to build that consensus, and i think once that happens we're going to get it done. if we have to be here christmas week in order to protect the american public from the fiscal cliff, i'm happy to be here, and so are my colleagues. >> i hope everybody speaks greek because that would be the appropriate language to use the week after christmas. thank you. get it done before christmas. thank you, u.s. congressman lee terry, thank you so much for coming. thank you, congressman connolly. up next, president obama had mitt romney over for lunch at the white house. do you believe it? i'd love to know what happened in that room. it's the latest edition in the often frosty relationship between the presidential rivals. it was pretty warm for about an hour on election night. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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well, this next story should surprise no one. the 112th congress is on track to be the least productive since the 1940s. with just weeks left, the congress has passed 196 bills into law, many of them ceremonial pieces of legislation like the naming of courthouses. since the 1940s the least productive congress was the 110th in the mid-'90s which passed 333 laws into law. the current congress would have to pass more than 130 bills by
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next month to avoid the dubious distinction of being the worst, the least productive.
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we're back. they may not be friends, but today for an hour mitt romney and barack obama had lunch together meeting in the oval office and dining over turkey chili and southwestern grilled chicken salad. two poultry dishes in one meal in what's become a custom in recent presidential history. the white house says they spoke of america's leadership, but also noted the two men would keep contact should they be able to work together again. perhaps a sign of things to come, maybe. the relationship between presidents and the men they beat is a tricky one. sometimes it develops into a warm friendship and sometimes not so much. "boston globe" political reporter matt viser is here. he was at the white house reporting on that lunch. and also presidential historian douglas brinkley, my pal, whose most recent book, great book, "cronkite." let me start with matt. we knew this was coming.
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the president said he wanted to do it, and there is a tradition of burying the hatchet. what else got done? did that get done? did they bury the hatchet? >> it was a symbolic moment that seems mostly symbolic. there doesn't appear to be much substance that came out of the meeting. you had romney driving up in the black suv -- he didn't drive, he was in the passenger side, but all alone -- nobody to open the door for him. >> how democratic. >> nobody opened the door for him. all alone -- nobody to open the door for him. >> how democratic. >> nobody opened the door for him. the inauguration stage is being built in the background. >> no secret service. >> no secret service for romney. and, in fact, i think he had to provide his name and -- >> no. who made him do that? >> date of birth, social security. had to provide just like anybody else. >> aren't they sweethearts? little gate nazis. in the post-election press conference, the president offered up a possibility of working together with former governor mitt romney. let's listen to him. >> there may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and
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growth that can help middle class families that i want to hear. so, you know, i'm not either pre-judging what he's interested in doing, nor am i suggesting i've got some specific assignment, but what i want to do is to get ideas from him and see if, see if there's some ways we can potentially work together. >> doug brinkley, what do you make of this? is this the beginning of a great friendship like in casablanca at the end or what. >> i don't think so. i don't think there's a big assignment coming for mitt romney. there are times when presidents feel compelled after they beat somebody to get them in the game. i mean, fdr did that with wendell wilky in 1940. world war ii was coming. we're all in this together. fdr also brought in frank knox, a republican as secretary of navy, and henry stimson, a republican and secretary of war. you have moments, you know, richard nixon offered hubert humphrey the olive branch of ambassadorship to the u.n.
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by in large, these don't work that well, unless it was an ex-president. if romney had been an ex-president, there is something called that exclusive ex-president's club, then there would be a role. i don't see a blue ribbon commission of mitt romney heading right now. and i don't see, you know, romney teaming up with dukakis and doing a kind of report that's going to matter. mcgovern and bob dole both lost and they got relevant working as a tandem team but they were also both world war ii vets who had a lot of love and respect on capitol hill. >> there have been friendships that didn't get too functional. carter got along good with jerry ford. they became good friends. >> very. >> of course, george w.'s father, george sr. bush became good friends with bill clinton. he calls him his son practically. this does work occasionally. >> you can't imagine that happening, though, with romney and obama. >> we saw them in the debate. they don't like each other. >> they don't like each other. there seems to be a personal animosity toward each other.
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they don't seem to respect one another. >> why do people, this is not partisan, an observation, why does everybody who run against romney hate him? mccain picked sarah palin, he hated him so much, rather than him as running mate. >> it's a core. >> and lacking one. >> obama as his legal background likes to have a legal argument that fits together. romney's ideology doesn't do that. i think there's not that -- >> do they believe he's not a member of the club, doug, because he country have a political philosophy. people like to say they live or die on what they believe. that's why they're in pub leg life, not just to be celebrities but to carry out a motive. do they believe he lacks one and that's why he can't get along with other politicians who often seem to have a motive? >> bingo, chris. i think that's very true. and he doesn't have a job, either, mitt romney. and -- >> you don't need a job if you're worth a quarter billion. >> no. but, you know, john mccain still had his senate seat and john
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kerry still was in the senate so there's still players in washington. you're looking at mitt romney, he didn't carry new hampshire, massachusetts, or california, his home states. there is no such thing as a romney republican anymore. they're a dwindling tribe. he doesn't have any power. he's coming today, obama looked good because he was showing a reaching out, the winner sticking out his hand and shows a spirit ofsh bipartisanship he trying to create through the gridlock. >> matt, are they still stunned? i watch this from 7:00 in the morning until i go to bed at midnight. i thought the election was much more pro-obama in the results than i expect. won a strong victory, a solid manda mandate. are they stunned by that? >> yeah, in some respects they are and trying to grapple with what happened and how their expectations got so high and how they felt -- >> stu stevens right now think tonight we're trying to figure that out. are they still going to the tea leaves? what happened here? >> there's a bit of that. romney, himself, the data guy, going through the numbers trying to figure out what happened and what went wrong and when.
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i think they'll be doing that for a while. you know, i don't think it's something that's fading for romney. i mean, i think he still thinks about this an awful lot. >> doug brinkley, honor to have you on as always. doug brinkley, author of the great book on cronkite. it's really a good history of, well, recent american history going all the way back to world war ii. it's a great book. anyway, we'll be right back. doug brinkley, thank you. matt viser of the great "boston globe." you're watching "hardball." but it's not like everyone is going to break into a karaoke jam session. ♪ this will literally probably never happen.
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let me finish tonight with that lunch they had at the white house today. i'm absolutely convinced politics should have its limits. fight over policy, competence and ethics and try your best to keep the other side honest, smart and doing its job and when you can, try to take the job away from the other side and try doing it better yourself. that's the end of it. it's not about hating people. it's not about refusing to cooperate in the interest of the country. personally i wish romney had left things the way he did election night. he gave a great even noble concession speech, said all the right things, didn't blame it on his running mate or campaign staff. he praised them all. he took the hit personally. it was class. he had to mess it all up by saying the president won by making gifts to the people who voted to him. anyway, it wouldn't bother me a bit if obama did find a use for romney, a role he could play for the country. he did do a good job in the olympics, does have talent in that area putting organization into fightinha